Monday, February 23, 2015

Twenty Scriptures & Songs That Are Seeing Me Through Right Now

"Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me:  
for my soul trusteth in Thee:
yea, in the shadow of Thy wings will I make my refuge, 
until these calamities be overpast."
Psalm 57:1

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"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; 
and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn.  
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, 
and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord."
Isaiah 54:17

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"Fear thou not; for I am with thee:  
be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; 
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness."
Isaiah 41:10

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"Behold, I will do a new thing; shall it not spring forth;
shall ye not know it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness, 
and rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:19

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"And we know that all things work together 
for good to them that love God,
 to them who are the called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

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"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man:  but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able;
but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, 
that ye may be able to bear it."
I Corinthians 10:13

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"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings..."
I Peter 4:12

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"...for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
Hebrews 13:5

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"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
Jeremiah 29:11

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"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, 
neither shall there be any more pain:  
for the former things are passed away."
Revelation 21:4

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"But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, 
and He that formed thee, O Israel,
Fear not:  for I have redeemed thee,
I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee;
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:
when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned;
neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
Since thou wast precious in My sight, thou has been honorable,
and I have loved thee:  therefore, will I give men for thee,
and people for thy life."
Isaiah 43:1,2,4

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"From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the Rock that is higher than I."
Psalm 61:2

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"But the Lord is faithful, Who will establish you, 
and keep you from evil."
2 Thessalonians 3:3

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"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; 
but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:15

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"And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, 
Master, Master, we perish.  Then He arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water:
and they ceased, and there was a calm."
Luke 8:24

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"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good..."
Genesis 50:20

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"The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
Exodus 14:14

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"...but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee."
Deuteronomy 23:5

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"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:  and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them."
Deuteronomy 33:27

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"When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."
Isaiah 59:19

Monday, February 9, 2015

Choosing "We Time" Over "Me Time"

"These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace.
in the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

"Make sure you turn on the radio", my dear, sweet, thoughtful, caring husband called to me,
as I walked out the door to make a close to 60 mile trip from home.
He knows how sleepy I get when I am under the wheel.
He also knew I had gotten only about 2-3 hours of sleep the night before,
and not much more during several nights before that.
The trip had to be made, and he could not go,
so he wanted there to be noise in the car to keep me awake.
Bless his dear, loving heart.
Always looking out for me.
I love him so much...there truly are no words.

We are in the midst of some heavy-duty trials...
the kind that make you think of the "heated seven times hotter than usual" one
that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked through in Daniel 3:19
and the fiery ones Peter spoke about in I Peter 4:12.
The trip by myself the other morning was a result of what we are going through,
so I left our home very, very heavy-hearted.
I have cried until I truly have no strength left for tears.

Have you ever done that?
Just cried and agonized over something until you became too weary to cry anymore??

I don't know, maybe I am just different, but that is exactly how I feel.

Anyhow, after I got in the car, I heard Kevin's voice in my mind
and started to reach for the radio knob....
then I stopped.
Not because I didn't want to follow his suggestion,
and not because I was tempted this time to wander to a place that prompted THIS POST.
The reason I decided to pull my hand away from the radio dial was because over the past few years,
I have witnessed a sort of evolution,
and I have been noticing a different, recurrent pattern in my routine.

Anyone who knows me very well, knows how much I love music.
It soothes my soul, bridges the gap to days long ago, and makes me happy.

It used to be, that when I had some "me" know, those moments when everybody else
is doing their own thing, otherwise occupied, asleep, or away from home, 
or when I would be driving alone in the car,
music would be one of the first places I would turn...
by picking up my guitar to play and sing or by turning on the radio or a CD to listen.

I still love and enjoy doing that.
Music is, and always will be, very close to my heart.

But, lately, 
since I've been on this ongoing quest to come to know Christ like never before,
when I find I have some uninterrupted "alone" time, I have felt compelled to keep things very quiet.
To create an atmosphere so silent that I can listen....and hear that still, small voice.
I just feel drawn to something...or should I say, to some One...higher.
This drawing is a magnet,
like the moon pulls on the tide,
like opposites that are attracted to each other.

Some days I could not feel more opposite of Him.
So FAR below the standard He longs for me to be.
I am hoping that by spending this extra time with Him,
His grace and glory and holiness will rub off, and I will become just a little more like Him.

At some point, I have started to prefer to spend my "me time"...alone with Him.

Somewhere along the line, my "me time" 
subtly and quietly evolved into "we time".

And "we time" is the way I chose to spend my one hour drive the other morning.
I decided that I would pray...and listen to His voice the whole way there...
while I had those moments alone in that car.
I needed HIM so desperately.
I needed to feel the Divine presence of the Comforter.

Jesus' invitation,
"Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, 
and I will give you rest", was just way too hard to resist.

So, I poured out my heart, driving down the interstate, and I listened to His calming, soothing voice.
By the time I got to my destination, I felt a sense of peace.
Like everything was going to be okay, regardless of the outcome.
Does that make sense?

I'll tell you the truth, the peace I began to feel really didn't make sense to me.
Not at all.
Thoughts of facing the fire, knowing what could be waiting for us, and wondering how things were going to turn out did not lend themselves to any form of a sense of peace.
But, as I walked into the building, and even as I sat and waited my turn for over two hours,
it was there...deep in my heart, just the same.
This kind of peace is a peace that passes all human understanding.
The Apostle Paul spoke of it in Philippians 4:7,
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

This peace transcends "the outcome", 
regardless of what the outcome turns out to be.

This time, it turned out that our fears were well-founded and painfully realized.
For, when I finally got to speak to the person I needed to, our suspicions were confirmed.
I sat there, staring at the man seated across the desk from me,
feeling like he had defied his calm, sympathetic, albeit professional demeanor,
and just punched me in the stomach.
I was floored by his words.
Full-blown panic rose inside of me, making me feel nauseated and filling me with anxiety.
I was confused.
Hadn't a sense of peace washed over me in the car,
and hadn't it remained the whole time I was waiting my turn?
So, why was this man telling me the complete opposite of what I wanted to hear?
I kept asking him questions, hoping, in vain, for a different answer.
Then the truth dawned on my rattled senses.

God's peace that passes all understanding, is not contingent upon our circumstances.
Being filled with it, does not mean the storm will suddenly stop.
It does not insure or guarantee that we will hear what we want to hear
or that the fallout will be pleasant and joy-filled.

I had mistakenly assumed that since I felt such deep peace about the situation,
the conclusion was going to be good news and our concerns would be obliterated.

This quote comes to mind...
"Sometimes God calms the storm; sometimes He calms His child."
Author Unknown

I truly thought, walking in there, that I was going to walk back out relieved and dread-free.
How wrong I was.
We did not get good news.
Our concerns were not invalidated.
They were blatantly proven to be true.
I had just been told the worst possible news I could have been told in this situation.
But, just as the angst inside of me multiplied by the second,
I realized that even then, hiding under the shock and stunned surprise,
the peace I had secured in the car was still there.

I still, even now, know things are going to be okay.
I am not sure how, exactly, but I know God is going to cause all of this to work together for our good.

On my way there, the dear Lord brought so many encouraging things to my mind...
things that cemented and supported the peace He was pouring into me.
Things like Romans 8:28,
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
 to them who are the called according to His purpose."
this song.
I kept hearing it and stumbling across it, in various places,
for several days prior to this intense trial.
Now, I know why.

In spite of all we are facing right now, God's peace remains.
It trumps the fear...even the reality.
Because I know we are in His hands, and He is ultimately in control....
of our lives and everything that touches us.

I found His peace, because I searched for it during our time of communion in the car.
I hate to think what kind of shape I would have been in, had I opted for "me time" over "we time".

I am finding more and more as I travel down this uneven, unpredictable journey of life,
that I need God more than ever.
I need "we time" with Him, way more than I have ever needed "me time".
The older I get, the more precious every moment of life becomes to me.
Losing Mom and Dad made me see my own mortality in an even more vivid light.
When I have time "to spare", I want to redeem it and utilize it in the most optimal way.
Communing with the Lord is the way I want to spend it.
On days I don't get to spend quality "we time" with Him, my whole day goes out of skelter,
and I have no peace.
I feel a nagging sense of unrest dogging my every step.
I worry more.
I trust Him less.

I need that daily renewal time more than ever.
It recharges my energy,
restores my soul,
and renews my strength in ways that nothing else can.

I suppose one of the main reasons for our trials is because God wants us to feel the need for Him.
He wants us to turn to Him...
when the bottom falls out,
when fear overwhelms,
when the pain is just too much.
God loves spending time with His children.
Think about it.
After creating all other manner of living things, besides mankind,
God still hadn't found the communion He sought.

So, He created man...and souls.
And within them, He placed a deep, longing need...for Him.
When trials are toughest, He draws us to Him...
invites us to enter His throne room,
and holds out a welcoming scepter, confirming our acceptance in His presence.

I don't know for sure, but I have a strong hunch that God enjoys our "we time" as much,
maybe even more, than we do.
I think He loves to give us His peace as much, maybe even more, than we long to receive it.

Oftentimes when we have no peace, it is because we have allowed a distance to come between ourselves and God.
Usually, it stems from the fact that we have neglected our prayer life.
The closer we press into Him, the more peace we will have.

How goes it with you, my friend?
How do you prefer to spend your free moments?
Do you long for a closer walk with Jesus?
Does it feel like He is a million miles from you?
Have you learned the wonderful secret of trading your "Me time" for "We time"?
The choice is, and will always be, individually yours.  

"Draw nigh to God, 
and He will draw nigh to you."
James 4:8